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‘Sensitivity Readers’ Will Now Weed Out ‘Offensive’ Material From Books


By Amber Randall

Book publishers are hiring readers to go through their material and take out any offensive items.

These people, called sensitivity readers, scan books before they reach shelves for racist, sexist and other offensive material, reports Heat Street.

The sensitivity readers only cost a small fee and reportedly have experiences with transgender issues, race in the Muslim community, and terminal illness. These readers are in high demand, as authors are criticized for “bias” and “cultural appropriation.”

Dhonielle Clayton, a librarian and writer, works as a sensitivity reader. She goes over two manuscripts a month and makes sure that characters and scenes are genuine. She also advises authors on research for their books.

“Books for me are supposed to be vehicles for pleasure, they’re supposed to be escapist and fun,” Clayton said. She doesn’t believe that books are supposed to be filled with stereotypes or “harmful versions” of people.

Kate Messner, a children’s author, regularly employs sensitivity readers to go over her books. She believes that they have helped her make sure the issues she covers in her books are “realistic and sensitive.”

“I wouldn’t dream of sending those books out into the world without getting help to make sure I’m representing those issues in a way that’s realistic and sensitive,” Messner said.

In the past, some authors have come under fire for not being sensitive enough in their works. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was accused of  “cultural appropriation” for how she included Navajo traditions in one of her books.

“Who could have predicted that a white lady from the UK would have problems with appropriating Native American culture? Oh, wait, that should have been completely obvious to anyone even thinking of doing what J.K. Rowling did,” Gizmodo wrote at the time.

Not all authors are happy about this move. Lionel Shriver, an American fiction writer and journalist, suggested that cultural appropriation could lead to the end of fiction and creativity. (RELATED: ‘Absurd’: Woman Author Delivers The Most Resounding Denunciation Of Identity Politics Yet)

“But this latest and little absurd no-no is part of a larger climate of super-sensitivity, giving rise to proliferating prohibitions supposedly in the interest of social justice that constrain fiction writers and prospectively makes our work impossible,” Shriver told her audience.

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